Oregon Ducks

What's Justin Herbert's future? Q&A with Bleacher Report's Matt Miller

What's Justin Herbert's future? Q&A with Bleacher Report's Matt Miller

A NFL career awaits Oregon's ultra-talented junior quarterback Justin Herbert. The question is, how long will that career have to wait?

Another question, what do NFL decision makers make of the 6-foot-6, 240-pound junior with the powerful right arm and sneaky fast wheels?

To answer that question, I reached out to Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, who just disclosed that his sources say ‘no one has heard a thing’ about if Herbert plans to declare for the 2019 NFL draft. Miller’s candid answers reveal when he expects a decision announcement, what is weighing on Herbert the most, and that numerous reports depict Herbert as different, weird or immature.

The lure of the NFL and the riches that come with it are tough to resist. But Herbert is not your typical athlete, and fits the mold of a player who might stay for his senior season.

Let’s dive in!

Last day to declare for the NFL Draft is Jan. 14, do you think we will know Herbert’s decision before the end of the year?

Miller: I would expect an announcement after the bowl game. Given his standing that might just be a press conference where he announces his intentions. I would be surprised if anything leaked before an announcement. 

In your article you said no one has heard a thing… Why keep everyone waiting?

Miller: The feeling I got is that Herbert genuinely hasn’t made a decision, which is why it’s been so quiet. Normally we’d be hearing he’d signed with an agent, but that hasn’t been the case. I don’t see it as a scheme or plan, just that he’s truly undecided. 

What do you think is weighing on him the most? The chance to play with his brother? The money? His commitment to education? Something else?

Miller: I can only speculate, but it could be a lot of everything. Many sources referred to him as a different kind of guy who might not feel rushed to get into the NFL. The chance to play with his brother, accomplish more on and off the field in college, and better prep for the league are all great individual reasons so collectively it’s a strong case to return. 

If you could give him advice, what would you tell him?

Miller: My official advice would be to declare. He’s a likely top 10 selection and really can’t help his draft stock by returning. He could absolutely improve as a player, but that’s unlikely to result in him being drafted any higher. Next year’s quarterback class also looks very strong at this point. The competition to be QB1 is weak right now. 

Some consider his 2018 season underwhelming, do you think he hurt his draft stock?

Miller: I wouldn’t call this season underwhelming. Too often people place unrealistic expectations on quarterbacks who are high draft prospects and expect huge statistical seasons or awards, but the traits that make them good prospects don’t always result in high yardage or touchdowns. And he’s still the top ranked passer, so it didn’t affect him. 

What is your favorite thing about Herbert you think will translate well to the NFL?

Miller: He’s a beautiful passer. And I don’t even mean the hair. Mechanically he’s flawless. He has excellent size and arm strength. He can move well out of the pocket. There’s a lot to love. 

What do you think will be a liability/needs to improve on most?

Miller: The biggest area to improve is the mental aspect. There are numerous reports that he’s different, weird or immature. That’s one area where a return to Oregon could allow him to improve as a prospect. 

He’s the top QB on most draft boards, if he declares, where do you see him going?

Miller: As of now, the Giants and Jaguars are the most likely to consider a QB in round 1 and he fits there from a value standpoint as a top ten pick. 

Do you think he should keep the HAIR?!

Miller: HAVE to keep the hair. 

Marcus Mariota has "no doubts at all" about being a starter next season

Marcus Mariota has "no doubts at all" about being a starter next season

It's weird to think that given the preseason expectations for the Tennessee Titans, losing in the AFC Championship game would constitute a bad season but it was that for quarterback Marcus Mariota. 

The only Heisman winner in Oregon Ducks history was benched following a 2-4 start to the season in favor of former-Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Quite a fall from grace for Mariota who Tennessee drafted second overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, and threw, ran and rushed for a touchdown in the 2017 Wild Card round at Kansas City. 

The Titans would go on to earn a wild card playoff berth, ultimately advancing to the AFC Championship, while Mariota held a clipboard.

When asked after the season-ending defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs if he still believes he's a winning, starting quarterback in this league, Mariota reaffirmed full confidence in himself.

I have no doubts at all, no doubts at all. I'm just hopeful and ready for whatever that next opportunity is.

Mariota has shown flashes throughout his professional career, including an impressive sophomore campaign when he threw 26 touchdowns and just nine interceptions with a career-best 7.9 yards-per-attempt until a broken leg ended his season. His junior season saw massive regression as he threw 13 touchdowns to 15 interceptions while playing through a hamstring injury. That regression would continue into his fourth season under first-year head coach Mike Vrabel. 

Before being benched, Mariota has a 29-32 record in 61 games as a starter with 13,207 passing yards, 76 touchdowns, and 44 interceptions. After being benched Mariota was a consummate professional until the end. Head coach Mike Vrabel praised Mariota's professionalism throughout the season. 

It's not entirely Mariota's fault, however; few young quarterbacks would succeed with four offensive coordinators and five different play-callers during their rookie contract. When he hits the open market in March, he can seek out a better opportunity to turn his career around. 

NBC Sports Northwest's Seahawks Insider Joe Fann speculated that five teams could bring in Mariota to compete for the starting job: Dolphins, Chargers (if Rivers leaves), Colts, Bears and Panthers. Additionally, if all of those teams don't want Mariota as a stopgap solution as they groom a rookie or stay put with their current starters than perhaps Mariota could return to the pacific northwest to back up Russell Wilson. 

 

Changes to the 2020 Women’s Final Four will make it easier for viewers

Changes to the 2020 Women’s Final Four will make it easier for viewers

There are new and exciting changes coming to the 2020 Women’s Final Four basketball tournament.

Announced today via ESPN, Division I semifinals will be moved from ESPN2 to ESPN as well as the first and second rounds will now be available nationally, eliminating regionalization. 

The reason this is important is you are likely to see either/both Oregon and Oregon State in the Final Four. 

According to Bracketology with ESPN’s Charlie Creme, Oregon is a current one seed in the Portland, Oregon region and Oregon State is a two-seed in the Greenville, South Carolina. 

Both teams are currently ranked in the AP Poll top-10: No. 4 Oregon and No. 7 Oregon State. The Civil War weekend series kicks off on Friday, January 24 at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, OR. 

Jaynes: Mario Cristobal put program first in hiring of Joe Moorhead

moorhead_16x9.jpg
NBCSNW

Jaynes: Mario Cristobal put program first in hiring of Joe Moorhead

Time will tell what kind of offensive coordinator the Oregon Ducks hired Tuesdat. But certainly former Mississippi State Coach Joe Moorhead has the credentials for the job.

He proved at Penn State that he can move the football and he showed at MSU that he is a big-time recruiter. I mean, if you can lure four- and five-star recruits to Starkville, Miss., you can get them to Eugene.

But for me, the hiring tells as much about Mario Cristobal as it does about anything else.

There are a whole lot of coaches who would not EVER hire a man who even remotely could prove to be a threat to take their job. Moorhead is a former head man of an SEC program and someone with a solid resume. Cristobal is obviously secure in his job and a lot of people would assume that anyone in his position -- with a solid season behind him, a top-10 ranking at the end of that season and a long-term contract -- would never be threatened by the presence of a veteran assistant who could someday campaign for his job.

But that's not the case.

A lot of these guys are very insecure. They take no chances with their assistants. I see it in pro sports, too, where teams pass on proven assistant coaches who could help their team win because the head man is worried about job security. Instead, these teams continually hire young coaches with something to prove or veterans with no head coaching experience or no interest in ever taking the big job.

Cristobal shows with this hire that he's looking to do what's best for his team and isn't worried about hiring somebody who could someday threaten his position.

And that's what the top coaches do. That's what winners do.

Washington hired the OC that ruined Penn State, Oregon hired who saved Penn State

Washington hired the OC that ruined Penn State, Oregon hired who saved Penn State

Washington and Oregon have both filled their offensive coordinator positions with former Penn State coaches.

Huskies coach Jimmy Lake named John Donovan as his offensive coordinator Friday morning. Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal followed up that announcement naming Joe Moorhead as his offensive coordinator, who coincidentally replaced Donovan in Happy Valley.

Donovan coached under Penn State head coach James Franklin (2011-2013) at both Vanderbilt and Penn State (2014-2015). Following the 2015 season where the Nittany Lions ranked 105th in the country in total offense (348.4 yards) and 100th in points per game (23.2 points), Donovan was fired and replaced by Joe Moorhead. 

Moorhead in his first season as offensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions increased their offensive ranking in every category on their way to winning the Big Ten: 21st in scoring offense (37.6 points) and 50th in total offense (435.6). One season later the Nittany Lions shot up to sixth in scoring offense (37.6 points) and 19th in total offense (460.3 yards). Both seasons Moorhead's offense broke Penn State school records for scoring offense and total offense.

After Washington made the announcement, many Penn State fans sent their condolences to Husky fans.

It's never a good sign when the fanbase for a coach's prior stop has this reaction to him getting another coaching job. However, it seems warranted in this case.

In Donovan's last five seasons as an offensive coordinator at the college level (Vanderbilt and Penn State) his offenses ranked at best 82nd in the country in total offense: 98th, 82nd, 93rd, 114th, and 105th. Huskies coach Jimmy Lake even indirectly references his putrid offenses in his statement welcoming him to the program.

"Coach Donovan has a great deal of experience at both the college and NFL levels, learning from a lot of great offensive minds about coaching the kind of aggressive, pro-style offense we want to play here at Washington," Lake said. "From my own experience, I know how much a coach can learn and grow by spending significant time in the NFL. I'm excited for him to get to Seattle and get started."

Meanwhile, the Ducks hired an offensive coordinator who ran the seventh-ranked scoring offense the last time he was an offensive coordinator. Granted, his offenses as Mississippi State head coach were also lackluster, 71st and 74th in total offense his two seasons as Bulldogs head coach, before getting fired this month. But he was much more successful more recently than Donovan and may have lacked weapons at Mississippi State. A problem he won't have in Eugene given how great of a recruiter Cristobal has been.

It's always possible that Donovan kills it and Moorhead flops at Oregon making this whole article look silly, but given the information available today there's no way you can think Oregon didn't make the better hire. 

What we learned about Justin Herbert at the Senior Bowl: He'll talk your ear off

What we learned about Justin Herbert at the Senior Bowl: He'll talk your ear off

Justin Herbert is one of the top prospects in this year’s Senior Bowl, but let’s get one thing straight: he’s not quiet.

Herbert, one of the top prospects in this year’s Senior Bowl held in Mobile, Alabama, has been notoriously known for soft and shy personality during interviews. The Oregon football quarterback, however, silenced his critics when asked what he needs to show on the field Saturday.

“I think people are worried about leadership and me being pretty quiet,” Herbert said in Tuesday’s press conference. “I would say I’m not too quiet. I’ll talk your ear off. There are these things I want to be transparent with and give a good representation of myself.”

Herbert also shed light on what he'd be doing if he wasn't pursuing a professional football career. 

The baby-faced assassin finished his senior season at Oregon with 3,471 yards, 32 touchdowns and just six interceptions and led the Ducks to a victory in the Rose Bowl as offensive MVP.

But some are still questioning Herbert’s eligibility.

Herbert is one of six quarterbacks at this year’s Senior Bowl and will play for the South team coached by the Cincinnati Bengals, who hold the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft. He will be joined by Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma and Steve Montez of Colorado on the South team. The Senior Bowl will take place on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium at 11:30 a.m. PT.

OFFICIAL: Joe Moorhead hired as Oregon OC

OFFICIAL: Joe Moorhead hired as Oregon OC

One week after news broke that former Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead was expected to take over for Marcus Arroyo in Eugene, it's official.

Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal revealed last week he wanted to hire an offensive coordinator "within the week," and the Moorhead news broke later that night from Stadium's Brett McMurphy. 

"The search for our next offensive coordinator was extensive and drew interest from coaches at all levels from around the country," Cristobal said. "It was a thorough process, because we wanted to not only get the best coach for the University of Oregon, but also the best fit for our student-athletes and coaches. I'm fired up to welcome Joe, his wife Jennifer, daughter Kyra and sons Mason and Donovan, to Eugene and our football family."

"I've admired Joe [Moorhead]'s offensive philosophy and ability as a play caller from afar, and after meeting with him I was even more impressed. He is a great teacher and communicator, and instills confidence and belief in his players. His offenses have been explosive, balanced, multiple and creative. More importantly, he's a great man, father and husband who our players and staff will enjoy working with."

According to Matt Prehm of DuckTerritory.com, Moorhead has signed a two-year contract that will pay him $900,000 annually.  Arroyo was set to make $850,000 this upcoming season.

Moorhead interviewed for the job the weekend prior to the news breaking and must have made an impression to be hired so shortly afterwards. 

"I'm extremely excited and very appreciative of Coach Cristobal for this opportunity," Moorhead said. "I'm looking forward to helping build on the great success the program has already had and I can't wait to experience game day in Autzen Stadium."

The former Bulldogs head coach was a late addition to the candidate list as he was fired after the Bulldogs' bowl game following just his second season replacing current Florida head coach Dan Mullens. His offense as Mississippi State head coach were also lackluster, 71st and 74th in total offense, but he excelled his last time as an assistant coach at Penn State.

In his first season as offensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions, Moorhead won the Big Ten and placed 21st in scoring offense (37.6 points) and 50th in total offense (435.6) nationally. They also shattered then-school records for total offense (6,056), passing yards (3,650) and points scored (526). Sports Illustrated and Yahoo both named Joe Moorhead the nation's No. 1 rising assistant coach in August 2017 ahead of his sophomore season in Happy Valley.

In his second season, the Nittany Lions shot up to seventh in scoring offense (41.1 points) and 19th in total offense (460.3 yards), once again setting school records. Given the weapons Oregon has on offense returning and joining the program, Moorhead should be able to do some damage.

Juwan Johnson, who played for Moorhead while at Penn State, approved of the hire two weeks ago when it was rumored.

Ducks drop in AP Poll after a series split in Washington

Ducks drop in AP Poll after a series split in Washington

The Oregon Ducks men’s basketball team had an interesting weekend north in Washington with each game falling on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum.

First, the Ducks dropped a conference loss to unranked Washington State  72-61 in Pullman, WA. 

[RELATED]: Oregon has no answer for CJ Elleby in Washington State’s first top-10 win since 2007

Looking to bounce back at Washington, senior guard Payton Pritchard lead the Ducks recording 22 points off 6-of-12 from three-point range. Two of his three-pointers came in the clutch: one to force overtime, and one to win it all.

[RELATED]: Payton Pritchard's three-point dagger in OT seals Ducks' comeback win over Washington

After the wild weekend, Oregon has dropped in this week’s AP Poll from No. 8 to No. 12.

Joined by the Ducks (15-4, 4-2 Pac-12) in the AP Poll is No. 22 Arizona and No. 23 Colorado.

UP NEXT: The Ducks host the Los Angeles schools starting with the leader of the Pac-12 USC Trojans (15-3, 4-1 Pac-12) on Thursday night followed by UCLA (9-9, 2-3 Pac-12) on Sunday. 

Oregon climbs in AP Poll, Ionescu earns Pac-12 honors

Oregon climbs in AP Poll, Ionescu earns Pac-12 honors

The Oregon Ducks women’s basketball squad outscored their opponents 192-110 over the weekend. 

A 32-point victory over then No. 3 Stanford and a 50-point win over unranked Cal.

After such a dominating weekend, the Ducks have moved up in the AP Poll Top-25 rankings from No. 6 up to No. 4.

Other Pac-12 nods include No. 6 Stanford, No. 7 Oregon State, No. 10 UCLA, No. 16 Arizona State, and No. 18 Arizona.

Against Stanford, the G.O.A.T Sabrina Ionescu was three rebounds shy of recording yet another triple-double: 37 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds. 

The Ducks and Cardinal were back-and-forth throughout the first half with Oregon taking a 36-30 lead at halftime. But the third quarter is where everything changed for Oregon.

Second quarter, we started to establish who we are and how we wanted to play the game and then I thought the third quarter is when we put the hammer down. That was as good as a defensive quarter as we’ve played this year. — Head Coach Kelly Graves

Not only did Oregon candidly take care of Stanford, but Ionescu became Oregon’s all-time leading scorer.

It starts with Sabrina. She was magical tonight in lots of different ways. — Graves

Two days later, the Ducks dismantled the Cal Golden Bears putting up a triple-digit score (105) on one end and limiting Cal to only 55 points on the other. This time, it was junior Satou Sabally who lead all scores with 31 points and junior Erin Boley who dropped 22 points hitting 6-of-8 from three-point range.

After the historic weekend, Ionescu earned Pac-12 Player of the Week honors for the second time this season.

UP NEXT: Welcome to Civil War weekend. The No. 4 Oregon Ducks will first host rival No. 7 Oregon State on Friday at 7 p.m. (PT) at Matthew Knight Arena before making the 45-minute trip north to Corvallis for part two on Sunday, tip-off at 1 p.m (PT).

'Recruitment is shut down:' Four-star OL Josh Simmons commits to Oregon

screen_shot_2020-01-20_at_9.59.58_am.png
USA Today Images

'Recruitment is shut down:' Four-star OL Josh Simmons commits to Oregon

"10000% locked in."

That was the message four-star OL Josh Simmons had on Monday morning when he announced his commitment to join the Oregon football program. 

The news comes less than a month after Coach Mario Cristobal and his coaching staff offered Simmons a full ride scholarship and opportunity to play with the Ducks. He has yet to visit Eugene. 

"Family is everything to me. I know I would not have been able to get to this point in my life without the love and support of my Mother and Sister." Simmons said. "Through everything I know I have been able to lean on them. I also want to give thanks to everyone from the Helix community, my Coaches, Teachers at Madison and everyone who has had an impact on my academic and athletic career up to this point. Lastly I want to thank all the Coaches that believed in me and gave me an opportunity to further my studies while continuing to play the game I love. With that being said I would like to announce that I am Committing to the University of Oregon. Recruitment is Shut Down. 10000% Locked in #CaliFlock #ScoDucks #Duckforlife."

Simmons committed to Oregon over offers from UCLA, USC, Colorado, Duke and Washington State. He is Cristobal's sixth verbal commit of the 2021 class and the second offensive line commit with Simmons joining Jackson Light, the nation's No. 6 center.